I See Color

Colorblind people see color. Yes, the range of color is different from what a non-color-blind person sees, but they see color. I am disturbed when people tell me they don’t see color because it’s not true. These people managed to get dressed and match. They managed to buy a car that is their favorite color. Pick out shoes and furniture, socks, and any number of things that make up the spectrum of colors that are the rainbow, but when it comes to race, they say… I don’t see color, or I’m color blind. My grandmother was colorblind. Caused of her glaucoma, she had trouble differentiating between colors. 

I remember talking to her once about an experience in a shop in the town near where I lived. I’d patiently waited in line like the people in front of me. I was at the back of the line and was the only black person in the establishment. When the woman behind the counter finished waiting on everyone else, she turned her back to me and began conversing with a coworker. Both of them pointedly ignored me. They were trying to wait me out to see if I would leave. I finally spoke up. “Excuse me; I’ve been waiting to be helped. You helped everyone in front of me but then turned your back. Is there a reason you haven’t offered your assistance to me?” We both knew the reason, but the woman smiled and said, “I didn’t see you.” She had definitely seen me. I was in New York; the year was 2016. 

After I recounted the story to my grandmother when I was back home in North Carolina, she laughed her short laugh and followed up with, “..humph. You should have told her, as big and black as I am, how could you not see me?” 

When people tell me that they are color blind or don’t see my color, I am disturbed because it is an erasure of who I am. 

As a black person descended from slaves and Native Americans, my existence and that of my ancestors is one that the dominant culture has regularly tried to erase and continues to try to erase today. 

Though it’s not explicitly stated in the Genesis account of creation, when God created the world, God created color. Light and the various colors that make up the light spectrum came out of the darkness. Color is good. 

Harmful is the “othering,” mistreatment, and outright terror that has taken place worldwide and been inflicted on people because of their color. This treatment is antithetical to the Gospel of Christ. When Jesus is challenged about which of the commandments is the most important, his answer in Matthew 22 is simple, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” 

It’s impossible to love others when you don’t love yourself. Similarly, it’s hard to love when you’ve never experienced love, and when your daily existence could be a masterclass in survival, and your living and breathing are viewed as opposition to the state. I challenge all of us to see color. Because by seeing color, we can experience the fullness of the beauty of everything that God has created. 

See color. Give God thanks for the color, and then love the colors you see because someone is blind and either can’t see at all or can’t see a portion of the spectrum of color that God has created. 

By Rev. Dr. Michelle Lewis

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